Loretta Divine Live!

A Broadway actor and singer for years, Loretta Divine recently decided to take her show on the road, and it’s a show to see. Her nightclub debut in San Francisco took place on Thanksgiving weekend, running Friday through Sunday at the Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko. Television audiences know her as Adele, the chief’s wife on Grey’s Anatomy, and for her role on Eli Stone. On the big screen, she has appeared in a number of award winning films, including Crash and Dreamgirls.

The evening began with her grand entrance in a bright red top over a sequined gray and red dress and an exceedingly up tempo I Believe in Love sung in a high soprano that seemed a bit pushed rhythmically. She introduced the members of her three-piece band, piano, drums and bass, and said “We just met this mornin’, but we’re pullin’ this off!” Well, that explained it. And she was right. By the time she sang Just the Two of Us, the third tune of the evening, they had cruised to a soft landing.

In a tune embracing lonely nights in familiar words for San Francisco - where have they gone, all the great lovers, and why did they take my dreams along with them - she filled the air with melancholy desperation from one of her own compositions. Another of her compositions, Panties and Pearls, lighter and bawdier, started as a recitation with the canter of It Was the Night Before Christmas, though the subject matter was much closer to soft porn than to stockings hanging from a fireplace. It was but a prelude to the bittersweet ballad to follow.

As the evening became toasty, the rhythms of blues, gospel and just a touch of sweet jazz permeated the air, starting off with My Sweet Home Cookin’ Man, a down home tune to bump the blues home. Billie Holiday hovered in Divine’s Hush Now, Don’t Explain, the pain flowing tenderly from her lips until a delicious piano interlude intervened.

Loretta Divine is funny and engaging, with stories galore when she isn’t crooning. After the cabaret love songs, the gospel, blues and jazz, it was time to be current, to say something today’s generation would understand. So with all due respect, she belted out I’ll Bust the Window Out of Your Car, a modern day love song sporting lyrics from the current generation: I ain’t sorry. You deserved it. You broke my heart.

Loretta Divine brings with her a wealth of talent too big to articulate. Her history on Broadway, working with the likes of Bob Fosse and others, and her numerous roles on stage, screen and television inform her musical presence. She’s a bundle of joy to experience and is well worth seeing.

- Eryka M. Fraczek